"Black Is Week"
This week a series of events celebrated the Black community
On Sunday night, Nov. 6, Brandeis students gathered to eat delicious comfort food and mingle with old and new friends. The event was advertised as “Black Is Delicious” and was what many consider to be the highlight of “Black Is Week,” a week’s worth of fun and inspired events run by the Brandeis Black Student Organization (BBSO). The annual event consists of “Black Is Power,” a discussion on the role of being Black in America; “Black Ain’t New,” a fun dance party at Chums; “Black Is Delicious,” a communal meal with traditional comfort foods and “Black Is Self-Love,” which is a relaxing study break to hang out with friends. The culmination of these events is “Election Day,” where BBSO invites all students to watch history unfold with the comfort of a nacho bar.
“Black Is Week” is meant to be a time for all Brandeis students to have fun, learn new things and celebrate Blackness in all of its rich diversity. In an interview with the Justice, co-president of BBSO Danielle Gaskin ’18 explained that “Blackness is not a monolith … it is a diverse spectrum of experiences, narratives and cultures, which I think is what makes ‘Black Is Week’ so rich, so fun and so inviting for students on campus.”
This idea is perfectly represented in “Black Is Delicious,” because it featured diverse cuisines from multiple cultural and national backgrounds. The other co-president of BBSO, Daria Fogan ’17, expressed that during the “Black is Delicious” event, BBSO “wants to make sure everyone feels comfortable and that if they are missing something from home, we can give this to them.” Gaskin added to this and mentioned that for many Black students, no matter what their background, the food at Brandeis is “probably the biggest culture shock.” The food at Brandeis, she explained, is very different from what many Black students eat at home. “Black Is Delicious” is meant to bring students food with familiar smells and flavors, in order to bring the comfort of home to Brandeis University.
Though BBSO is meant to act as a support system and community for all students who identify as Black, all students are encouraged to attend “Black Is Week” and other BBSO events. Fogan emphasized that “people assume that just because it says ‘Black’, it seems like a culture club that people aren’t welcome, but they are … so we really try to keep hold to that status.” The events themselves were light, fun and interesting, making them a perfect platform for intercultural discussions.
BBSO was founded as Brandeis’ first intercultural group on campus. It acts as a haven for many students and helps create a community of support in the Black community on campus. Gaskin explained, “I think if you talk to international students, some of them would say, ‘I never thought of myself as Black until I stepped foot in the United States, and this title was placed on me. And then I had to figure out how I could meld both my international identity along with this new identity.’”
According to Fogan, there are many different types of Black, especially in America. Some students may identify as Caribbean, while others are from different African countries and others identify as African-American.
“This is a time where we wanted to just celebrate our different cultures, our differences. To discuss our different cultures and differences, too,” Fogan explained. She continued, “I hope [people] just learn that Black is just so much, it’s so rich, there’s such a deep history and culture. And you just learn that no matter what people’s skin color is, we’re all human, and you can always come bond over different conversations.”